Finn’s Law petition to be debated in the House of Commons this afternoon but government has said it thinks a change in the law is ‘unnecessary’

PUBLISHED: 10:16 14 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:31 14 November 2016

The petition was started after police dog Finn and handler PC Wardell were stabbed in Stevenage. Here is the moment they were reunited.

The petition was started after police dog Finn and handler PC Wardell were stabbed in Stevenage. Here is the moment they were reunited.

Archant

A petition to change the status of police dogs so that people who attack them face more severe charges is due to be debated in the House of Commons this afternoon.

The petition was begun after the stabbing of police dog Finn and his handler PC Wardell earlier this year in Stevenage.

But ahead of the debate, the government has issued an official statement in response to the petition – which now has more than 122,000 signatures – saying it thinks the law does not need to be changed.

At the moment an attack on a police dog is treated as a charge of criminal damage and the petition seeks to change that to make it the same as an attack on a person.

However the Home Office issued an official statement in response to the petition saying: “An attack on a police dog or other police support animal can be treated as causing unnecessary suffering to an animal under section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The maximum penalty is six months’ imprisonment, or an unlimited fine, or both. The financial element of the penalty was raised only last year from a maximum fine of £20,000.

“An attack on a police animal could be considered by the court as an aggravating factor leading to a higher sentence within the available range. Under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage which would allow for penalties of up to ten years imprisonment.

“An additional offence dealing specifically with attacks on police animals or a move to change their legal status is unnecessary in light of the maximum penalties already in place. An additional and separate offence may not result in more prosecutions, or increased sentences.”

You can watch the debate via the Comet website live from 4.30pm.

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